Douglas E. Wingeier (1954, 1962)

By Raymond N. Fedje ‘52, ‘64, Pastor, Carter Memorial Methodist Church, Needham Heights, Massachusetts

IN MORRIS L. WEST’s The Shoes of the Fisherman, Kiril Cardinal Lakota, following his election as Pope, addresses the School of Cardinals with these words:

You ask me where I want to lead you, where I want to lead the church. I will show you. I want to lead you back to God, through men. Understand this, understand it in mind and heart and obedient will. We are what we are, for the service of God through the service of man. If we lost contact with man—ssuffering, sinful, lost, confused men crying in the night, women agonizing, children weeping—then we, too, are lost because we shall be negligent shepherds who have done everything but the one thing necessary.(1)

Find me good men who understand what it is to love God and love His children. Find me men with fire in their hearts and wings on their feet. . . . I will send them out to bring love to the loveless and hope to those who sit in darkness.(2)

These words from a modern novel have much relevance, not only for the Christian ministry today, but for the Reverend and Mrs. Douglas Earle Wingeier. They could well be described as those who desire to serve God through their service to mankind. They are not “negligent shepherds”, but rather a couple who have a dedicated love for God and “love (for) His children”, expressed in their unique ministry in Singapore. This love for and sense of direction for serving God’s people as a missionary, has been a growing conviction for Dr. Wingeier since the time of his religious conversion at the age of 15.

Serving as missionary, pastor and teacher at the Trinity Theological College in Singapore, it is no accident that these two dedicated people found their way to Singapore as an important area of need in the world.

Dr. Wingeier’s maternal grandparents, the Rev. and Mrs. Charles S. Buchanan, now of Delaware, Ohio, served under the Methodist Board of Missions from 1898 to 1922 in Malaya, Singapore and Java, now a part of Indonesia. Dr. Wingeier’s mother was born in Singapore. Even today, Dr. Wingeier tells of meeting people who remember his grandparents and his mother! “It was quite a thrill to discover that the ground I tread on here was once also trod by my grandparents and Mother.”

As a lad, Doug, as he is known by his many friends, grew up in an average church with little thought to the ministry as a vocation. In fact, he remembers counting the squares on the ceiling of the sanctuary during many “long, dull sermons when I was too young to understand”. At the age of 15, however, Doug tells us he underwent a meaningful conversion experience. It was not a spectacular one, but one that became a “growing conviction that this [the mission field] was the way God could best use his life”.

Following seminary (Boston University School of Theology), and a successful pastorate at the Methodist Church in Graniteville, Massachusetts, Doug came to the Carter Memorial Methodist Church to work with Dr. Harold H. Cramer as the Associate Minister. Here again he showed his keen interest in youth as well as adults and endeared himself to the church and the community.

At the completion of his Ph.D. in Religious Education, the Wingeiers sought an appointment with the Board of Missions, to fulfill the desire to serve as missionaries. Following their training period, Carol, who is a BUST alumna, and Doug were commissioned by Bishop James K. Mathews in the Carter Memorial Methodist Church.

In writing reports to the local Needham congregation, which has undertaken a partial support of the work that the Wingeiers are doing, Dr. Wingeier writes:

There have been no outstanding individual experiences here in Singapore. Our satisfactions have come from watching and having a part in the slow, long-term growth of our students here at the College, the young people in the MYFs at both the Queenstown and Foochow churches with whom we have worked, and of the children in Carol’s kindergarten. Students come into the College, some of whom have only been Christian for a year or two. They are rough, boisterous, and ignorant of much in the Christian faith and life. Over their 4 years here, they become polished, well-mannered, learn to sing and even lead a choir, deepen their commitment to Christ, learn how to live together as Christians, learn to take responsibility, to preach, and administer a church, and then they go out to serve the little churches all over Malaya. Then, when we travel about the country and visit them, their small families, and their growing congregations, we gain a real sense of satisfaction from knowing that through them our influence is multiplied many-fold all over this part of the world.

A similar thing happens in our MYFs. Non-Christian young people come in quite large numbers, first at the invitation of their Christian friends or school teachers. They are very shy at first, and often their Buddhist parents are strongly opposed to their having anything to do with the Christian church. But gradually, they come to feel more at home in the group, learn more about the Christian life, and then one day they profess faith in Christ and become baptized. It has been my privilege to teach several groups of such young people in membership classes, preparing them for baptism and church membership. Again, it is a real thrill to stand in the church chancel and baptize or receive into membership such young people, with whom one has worked for several years, and seen them “grow up in Christ”. Occasionally, it is my privilege to officiate at the wedding of some of these young people.

This writer had the opportunity to speak with one of Dr. Wingeier’s students, Pang Ee Ang, of Singapore, when Mr. Ang visited this country and the Needham church. The impression received was certainly one of praise, admiration and respect for the work of Carol and Doug Wingeier. Indeed, they are not “negligent shepherds”, but rather God’s ambassadors to His children in Singapore and witnesses to their love for God through their love for and service to the people in the Church of Jesus Christ in Singapore.

The Wingelers are now at home on their first furlough, having completed their first four-year term of service, and will be studying group work and pastoral counselling at Chicago Theological Seminary during the 1966-67 academic year.

(1) West, Morris L., The Shoes of the Fisherman, pp. 42, 43.

(2) Ibid., p. 46.

This biography was originally published in Nexus: The Alumni Magazine Boston University School of Theology, Vol. 10, No. 1, November 1966), pp. 30-32.